PUFF A few weeks ago, on a beautiful, sunny day in the rolling hills of Mendocino County, Flow Kana opened the doors of its new venture, the Flow Cannabis Institute. Nestled inside an old winery in Redwood Valley, the institute’s mission is to help small, local farms keep up with their larger competitors in the exploding marijuana market.

With its “Respect the land and the medicine that it produces” mantra, Flow Kana is positioning itself as a leader of “artisan cannabis.” (It’s also got some canny marketing ideas: For Mother’s Day, a current marketing campaign suggests, why not help mom find a favorite strain by gifting her some pre-rolls or eighth jars? Of course they’re calling it  “Mama’s li’l helper.”) The new institute will be a center of processing, manufacture, education, and leisure—a full complex of cannabis bliss.  

But I was here to see how how its small grower process worked. The proposition is for the institute to serve as a kind of umbrella company that will shepherd a farm’s cannabis crop, after it’s harvested, to established market. A tour for the press and marijuana luminaries gave us a sneak peek.

Basically, a farmer delivers their marijuana crop to the institute for storage in a temperature and climate controlled environment. When the time is right, the institute will test, trim, sort, weigh, package, label, box, and distribute the marijuana to dispensaries for the farmer. The institute also hopes to showcase the best sustainable farming techniques available.

Inside the processing room at the institute

I asked some of the experts at the event if this was a good model, and they all agreed it was. It just depended on whether the institute could pay the farmers enough while still having money for everything else they want to do.

The sprawling 80-acre property houses the 85,000-industrial-square-foot institute, a number of historical buildings, some giant art pieces, a pool, spa, and the infamous Mad-Dog Saloon. Companies can have retreats, throw parties, or use it as a weekend getaway to relax and learn the newest in cannabis horticulture.

At the opening ceremony party, there was a Wild West theme to go with the saloon, with free food, a bar and live music. Inside the saloon, patrons ordered pre-rolls made to their specifications or used available bongs. This was a far cry from saloons of yore, but it sure was fun and educational sitting there watching the budtenders roll joints.

Off to the saloon

(Side note: This is where marijuana party rules kick in. 1. Do not smoke all of anything at one time when you first get there. 2. Eat in stages because once you get too high, eating brings you down. I made multiple trips to the pizza oven throughout the event. 3. Drink more water than booze. 4. Don’t eat or drink any tincture or edible given to you by a really buzzed stoner. If that concoction made a pro that messed up, just imagine what it will do to you! Say “Thank You” and put it in your pocket for later.)

At the end of the event, it was easy to see how much work and effort Flow Kana made getting this far with their dream institute. The testing facility and storage spaces were still under construction, and there was still plenty to complete.

As we see so many marijuana farmers and companies going under because of the changes brought on by legalized adult usage, it’s nice to see a company trying to do something to save the small farmers and help them flourish.

I’m eager to see what comes next at the Flow Cannabis Institute. Now, it’s time to light up!

Dan Karkoska is an independent producer, promoter, film critic, and DJ on the San Francisco scene. He also works with Maria Konner at Under the Golden Gate and is currently producing and hosting PUFF, the first queer marijuana rock-and-roll drag party every first Thursday at The Stud. He is a big stoner. Photo by Sari Staver.